Editorials

Antenatal corticosteroids in late preterm infants

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d1614 (Published 12 April 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1614
  1. Devender Roberts, consultant in fetal medicine
  1. 1Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool L8 7SS, UK
  1. devender.roberts{at}lwh.nhs.uk

Limited evidence suggests no effect on respiratory disorders or other complications of late prematurity

Current practice in the United Kingdom is to give a single course of antenatal corticosteroids to the mother if birth between 26+0 and 34+6 weeks’ gestation is a risk, with consideration given to its use between 23+0 and 25+6 weeks of pregnancy. The evidence for this comes largely from a systematic review and is supported by national guidelines.1 This systematic review of 21 studies (3885 women and 4269 infants) showed that treatment of women at risk of preterm birth with a single course of antenatal corticosteroids reduced the risk of neonatal death by 31% (95% confidence interval 19% to 42%), respiratory distress syndrome by 44% (31% to 57%), and intraventricular haemorrhage by 46% (31% to 67%).2 There is evidence that antenatal corticosteroids are used worldwide, although the gestations at which they are used varies with the availability of neonatal care.3 4 5

In the linked study (doi:10.1136/bmj.d1696), Porto and colleagues assess the effectiveness of corticosteroids for reducing respiratory disorders in infants between 34 and …

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